When the onus of evolution was on a few individuals, humans used to have a dozen of offspring. But today, the world population has exploded and it is no more about propagating the human race. That’s one reason why parents today are opting for a single child. On top of that delayed parenthood, fertility issues failed marriages and financial pressures are pushing people to opt for a single child only. But this is also resulting in a growing concern for single child syndrome or the problems of a single child. In this blog, I bring you the true facts about growing up without siblings.
Read on to know if the one-child family is a positive choice or if is it causing the single-child syndrome.
Well, first let’s understand what’s single child syndrome. Self-centered, stubborn, spoilt, and lonely, nineteenth-century psychologists termed these behavioral traits as a single-child syndrome. Some also said that because they grow up in aloofness, single children tend to be socially awkward.
In the early nineties, some renowned psychologists also called single child as ‘oversensitive’. However, they also noted that single children tend to be more imaginative because of the lack of companionship. But they also cautioned that this could lead them to the practice of deception and lying.
Such stereotypes have endured for more than a century but now new studies are proving that single children are in no way less than children having siblings. The only thing that matters is the environment in which the children are raised.
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Debunking the myths of single-child syndrome
Toni Falbo, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas had researched only children for decades. In one of his studies, Falbo found that only children were indistinguishable from firstborns and some even did better than children from large families. This was attributed to undivided attention from the parents, exposure to better opportunities, and less financial strain on the family.
As for being awkward and antisocial, a 2011 study showed that single children were open to making friends and had no problems communicating with colleagues. There are certain possible explanations for why the single child was considered a problem. Firstly, a century ago, parents would opt for a single child only for medical reasons. As such they tend to become overprotective towards their lone child. Secondly, single child in the 19th century was a vast minority and as such, they often felt bullied or left out.
But nowadays, a single child is becoming a choice of the majority for obvious reasons!
Problems of a single child
Being a single child is not a bad thing but it does have its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges that single children face is awkwardness in mingling with children of their age. This is also because most of these encounters happen in supervised settings. Children with siblings learn to read other kids quickly and easily.
Another issue with single children is that they tend to grow up in a very organized setup. So, they may get very upset when things go wrong as they are not used to chaos. Another trait that most single children tend to develop is a dependency on menial work. They always have their parents to attend to all their needs.
Third thing is that a single child has to deal with their aging parents alone. They don’t have anyone to share their childhood with. But for every child who had spent a lonely childhood, there are children traumatized by a bullying sibling.
Psychiatrists of the 21st century say that the number of siblings is not important. It is the quality of relationships and the household environment in which the children are raised and nurtured, that matters.
There is no guarantee that having a second or a third child can benefit your first child. But this will definitely put a strain on your physical health as well as your financial health. So, the only thing to remember is to love your children!
Tips for parents of a single child
There are many positives to having a single child and you can do the job just right if you trust yourself in the process. Here are some tips that will help –
- Open your child to social opportunities – Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and mingle with children of their age. It would be very helpful if you could sign them up for co-curricular classes like dancing, music, and taekwondo. This will not only help them carve their skills but also will help in improving their social skills.
- Don’t spoil them with your love – Your only child would always be the apple of your eye and there is nothing wrong with your love. The only thing you need to keep in mind is not to overdo things and spoil them. Teach them important moral values and life lessons right from a young age and they will make you proud!
- Allow your child to be a child – Single children tend to mature faster because it’s such a close-knit family of three. However, you have to remember to protect their innocence and keep them away from the couple’s fights!
- Don’t drain them with pressure – Parents of a single child often pressurize the child unknowingly. Since their entire world circles around the child, they may tend to become a bit pushy.
- Give them their space – Parents of a single child often resort to helicopter parenting. This means they keep an eye on the child at all times and make decisions on behalf of the child. This can have a negative impact on the child.
- Encourage them to be independent – Share your household responsibilities with the child. Make him or her a part of your team and give them or their a share of chores. This will also keep your child engaged!
Also Read: How to stop nail biting habit in children?
Tips for a single child that will help cope better
- Foster your social support system – Being a single child could mean that your social support system would be lacking sibling love. That’s why you need to build your own social support system. Mingle with friends and stay close to your cousins. Pick the ones that bring the best out of you!
- Balance your emotions – Since a single child is bought up with utmost care and protection, they may tend to be oversensitive. Being highly sensitive is not a problem but researchers say it can be a boon. However, you will have to learn to balance your emotions.
- It’s ok to not get things done your way – Since you are a single child, there is quite a possibility that you always got things your way. However, the world outside the shell of your family is not going to dance to your tunes. Learn to listen and accept others just like you seek their acceptance.
- Don’t be a spoilt brat – Not all single children are spoilt brats. So, don’t let your parent’s love make you arrogant. Be kind to them and to everyone you meet. Compassion is a life skill that can make a lot of difference!
- Shake off the pressure – It is quite common to see parents of single children pressurizing them to excel in every field of life. In such situations, have an open chat with your parents and tell them what you think and feel. They would definitely listen to your plea!
- Engage yourself in good things – Being a single child means you will have ample time to yourself which can also result in boredom. So, engage your mind and body in good things like sports, brainstorming, games, and books.
- Practice gratitude – Being a single child often means you will have more than you need. Rather than turning that into your arrogance foster a feeling of gratefulness. This helps you shape your mental frame in the right way.
Raising a single happy child is not an impossible mission especially when it is your choice. With the exceeding expense of modern life, many nuclear families are opting for a single child. As such knowing the psychological and emotional needs of a single can help in raising a happy and healthy kid.